10.25.21

Whitehouse Encourages Eligible Rhode Islanders to Apply for Revamped Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program

Whitehouse staff available to help constituents navigate new waiver for troubled student loan forgiveness program

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse is inviting Rhode Islanders eligible for the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program – including teachers, veterans, firefighters, and nonprofit employees – to contact his office for assistance navigating new changes to the program.

“While the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program was well-intentioned, the federal government’s poor execution amounts to a broken promise to thousands of Rhode Islanders,” said Whitehouse. “Under President Biden, the Department of Education is trying to make things right by broadening the program requirements to give more borrowers a clean slate. My office has significant expertise in helping borrowers clear program hurdles and it’s made an enormous difference in the lives of the Rhode Islanders we’ve been able to help. I encourage anyone looking to get started or reapply under the new waiver to reach out.”

Congress created the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program in 2007 to encourage talented workers to pursue public service professions that in many cases do not pay as much as private sector jobs. In order to be eligible to apply for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, borrowers must have made 120 monthly payments on federal student loans after October 1, 2007. Borrowers must also have worked at a qualifying job in government or at a 501(c)(3) nonprofit or other qualifying nonprofit at the time the payments were made. If borrowers meet all criteria, their remaining loan balance is forgiven.

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program has been troubled for years. Due to the program’s narrow and confusing specifications, many borrowers have found out that they do not qualify for loan forgiveness only after making years of what they believed to be valid payments.

After hearing from Rhode Islanders caught in the bureaucracy, Whitehouse has doggedly pursued fixes to the program. In 2018, Whitehouse helped secure $350 million to provide additional conditions under which a borrower may become eligible for loan forgiveness if some or all of the payments made on their Direct Loan Program loans were under otherwise non-qualifying repayment plans.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Education announced a waiver for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program rules for a limited time because of the COVID-19 national emergency. The Department of Education estimates that hundreds of thousands of people nationwide could benefit from the changes, which address some of the most common barriers borrowers have faced.

Under the new rules, any prior payment will count as a qualifying payment, regardless of loan type, repayment plan, or whether the payment was made in full or on time – all borrowers need is verification of qualifying employment. This change will apply to student loan borrowers with Direct Loans, those who have already consolidated into the Direct Loan Program, and those who consolidate into the Direct Loan Program by Oct. 31, 2022.

Constituents can contact Whitehouse’s office about the program by phone at (401) 453-5294 or via email at pslf_whitehouse@whitehouse.senate.gov.

Press Contact

Meaghan McCabe (401) 453-5294